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Federal support on the way for Molokaʻi clean energy cooperative

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Molokai’s Kawela ahupua’a. File photo credit: The Nature Conservancy.

Ho‘āhu Energy Cooperative Moloka‘i, a local group developing Moloka‘i’s first community-owned renewable energy resource project, will receive federal support, including technical assistance, from the US Department of Energy.

“This kind of hands-on federal support will help us expand clean energy production on Moloka‘i as the community moves to take its energy future into its own hands,” said US Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaiʻi, who made the announcement. “That means more jobs, more reliable energy, and cheaper electric bills for Moloka‘i residents.”

US Senator Brian Schatz. An oversight hearing to examine the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act’s promise after 30 years. PC: official US Senate photo by Rosa Pineda

Ho‘āhu Energy Cooperative Moloka‘i will receive tailored expert support from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a DOE National Lab, to address the island’s unique energy challenges.

During this first phase of the initiative, Ho‘āhu Energy Cooperative Moloka‘i will receive one-on-one assistance from PNNL, including training, energy and economic analysis, workforce and equity assessments, and grant application assistance.

The program also aims to help participating communities develop a network of experts that can serve as a resource even after the technical assistance phase ends. Technical assistance will take place over a 10-month timeframe extending to the end of 2022. After that, Ho‘āhu Energy Cooperative Moloka‘i may advance to a second phase of assistance, which will involve engineering and budgetary guidance and other technical support for project deployment.

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“Molokai, which is 60% Hawaiian by population, is challenged with energy rates nearly 400% higher than the national average,” said Todd Yamashita, president of Ho‘āhu Energy Cooperative Moloka‘i. “We are excited about this opportunity because it’s helping us create, on our own terms, an energy future that is reflective of the resilient and resourceful nature of our people.”

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The federal support is part of a DOE initiative designed to support communities that experience problems with their energy systems. It aims to mitigate energy access, affordability, and reliability challenges by helping those communities design energy storage solutions.

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